It actually seems like a more fair/balanced system.. A lot of jobs these days don't necessarily pay based on how hard the job is. To be quite frank a lot of the time it goes the opposite way and the easier the job the more you get paid. I'll probably catch some flack for this but I call it as I see it.
In a way yes, in another way I can see why people with huge student loans would like to get their studies worth. Having that said, it's not like doctors have to drive old cars and can barely afford food. Also, most lawyers are semi-businessmen with their own practices and such, and get paid well. So, there IS money to be earned, however, most doctors and lawyers (and other little more prestigeous jobs), that don't have their own practices, don't actually make the money their lengthy education would suggest. Also, most people without formal university education can still get well paid jobs, and most jobs that are "normal" (at factories, restaurants, clerks, etc.) are decent paid ones.
I just had to check the statistics again, and I was actually a (little) bit off in my previous post (going to have to edit it). IT people make more money than other people straight out of university, and after some years it's really a mixed bag - the difference between a developer and a doctor is about $5000-$10000 a year depending on where in the country they are (people in bigger cities get more), though a senior programmer makes about the same as a "senior" doctor (both with 10+ experience). Blue collar jobs in general are not necessarily less paid than white collar ones.
All in all, it's probably a more balanced system than you have over there. The biggest differences I can see are actually pretty small (aside from a few non-representative anomalies). I rarely hear about people having to work double shifts or have more than one work place. Also, one thing to consider is that we have free university education so I think there is a little more relaxed view on university degrees as opposed to having a solid experience from a normal, blue collar trade.
For example, I'd probably get more money working in a warehouse working shifts than as a junior position as a developer. Fresh doctors make even less. However, those in warehouses won't get they wages raised while both doctors and IT people do get pretty big raises.
Edit: I forgot to add that the higher your wages are, the more you pay in taxes (percentage wise). For example, a cleaning lady would pay the normal income tax which is about 30%. A higher paid doctor would pay closer to 50% income tax. So really, the differences after taxes are even less. However, a well paid doctor, despite not making enormous money has no problems getting a loan to buy a house while a cleaning lady would probably not get a loan at all.
Edited by Coq de Combat - 9/28/12 at 2:48am